Immediate gratification vs. delayed gratification plays a major role in in self-control. According to Howard Rachlin many individuals' personal problems stem from their inability to delay immediate gratification for more rewarding results that will come in the future. Howarch Rachlin used alcohol as his primary example. Someone who chooses to drink may feel immediate gratification but will wake up feeling worse. Other examples of this are someone who is delaying school work for pleasure but then crams school work into short periods of time resulting in poorly executed work. This sequence is referred to as the "primrose path" which is described as, "low-valued pattern of acts."
Unfortunately, this is how poor habits and consistent harmful patterns are formed. If one keeps choosing alcohol to feel instant gratification, they can eventually become an alcoholic, if someone continues to choose fast food over healthy food they will fall into the repetitive pattern and the long term reward will be an unhealthy over weight individual.
Here is a TedTalk by John Davidson. He shares how instant gratification is harming society and different tips to change some of our harmful habits. He compares our habits to a boomerang and how when you chose instant gratification the boomerang does not come back. When you delay the gratifications and chose long-term rewards the boomerang comes back creating healthy habits and beneficial rewards. A simple example is choosing to go to bed early every day rather than staying up late resulting in better performance throughout everyday activities.
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